Small Gestures, Big Impacts: Mental Health Awareness

As we observe Mental Health Month this May, the GVMA would like to take a moment to acknowledge the heavy mental and emotional load that veterinarians carry in this field. In partnership with mental health experts, we are committed to promoting awareness and providing resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of veterinary professionals.

According to a recent survey conducted by the AVMA, 1 in 6 veterinarians have considered suicide, and the rate of suicide among veterinary professionals is 2-3.5 times higher than the general population. We recognize that many of us are struggling, and that’s why we’re encouraging all our members to take small but meaningful steps to support your mental health and that of your colleagues.

We believe that small gestures can make a big impact. That’s why we’re launching a five-week challenge for our members to reach out to colleagues, friends, and family members in the following ways:

Week 1: Reach out to a colleague: It could be someone you work with or someone you know from an association. Schedule a coffee or lunch date to catch up.

Week 2: Connect with a friend or family member you haven’t spoken to in a while: Schedule a phone call, video chat, or even send a handwritten letter or card to let the person know you are thinking of them.

Week 3: Attend a mental health workshop or event: Consider attending a mental health workshop or event. This could be an online webinar, a local support group meeting, or an event in your local community that focuses on mental health.

Week 4: Participate in a self-care activity: This could be something as simple as taking a walk outside, practicing yoga, or spending time in nature. The important thing is to prioritize taking a break from the demands of work and daily life.

Week 5: Share mental health resources with others: This could be a podcast you found helpful, a book you read, or an online resource you found useful. Sharing these resources can help reduce stigma and encourage others to prioritize their mental health.

We understand that seeking help can be difficult, and that’s why we want to make it as easy as possible for our members to access the resources they need.

The GVMA Compass Program, a member assistance program, provides resources, tools, and referrals for financial, legal, and mental health assistance including crisis hotlines, treatment locators, and tips for helping someone in emotional pain. We are here to support our members and help navigate the challenges of working in a demanding field.

The GVMA CAN, Colleague/Clinic Personnel – Assistance Needed is designed to assist those in the veterinary community who have experienced some significant, potentially life-changing event in their lives. The sole purpose of the GVMA CAN program is to allow the veterinary community to reach out in meaningful and compassionate ways to veterinarians, licensed veterinary technicians, veterinary assistants, receptionists, kennel technicians, and their families who experience a death, catastrophic event, serious illness, or injury.

We encourage you to explore all GVMA wellness resources for more information on the resources available to members.

Let’s take a few extra minutes to make those small gestures this month and every month together. Remember, mental health challenges are not unique to any particular demographic or profession, and seeking help is a sign of strength. Let’s spread the word and encourage others to take small gestures towards improving mental health this May. Together, we can make a difference.